Visiting campus. The interview is a big deal at Duke—mostly because they really, really want you to come to campus to do it. Other schools conduct interviews almost at the convenience of the applicant, with even phone or Skype interviews being offered in some cases. Not at Duke. They feel that Team Fuqua is a part of the evaluating process, and Team Fuqua is on campus. They want you to come to campus and experience it for yourself, so they can sell you on Duke at the same time as you’re trying to sell yourself to them. Duke offers two types of interviews: Open and Invitation.
Open Interviews. Open Interviews are applicant-initiated, meaning you sign up for it yourself, even before you’ve submitted your application. The window for them is typically early September – early October, and applicants from any round are eligible for an Open Interview. These interviews are more evaluative in nature and are conducted by a current student on campus. Duke offers these Open Interviews as a way to have a more “open” admissions process and also to encourage candidates to get involved in their campus community before applying.
Interview invitations. If you don’t schedule an Open Interview, you may be invited to interview after submitting your application. Interviews are not technically required for admission at Duke (in fact, until just a few years ago they were optional), though 99.9% of admitted students go through the interview process. The exceptions (still in rare cases) may be active military or other significant extenuating circumstances. Interviews can be conducted on campus at Duke (the admissions committee explicitly prefers that candidates come to Durham to interview) or in select cities around the world on a specific schedule published by the admissions committee (“hubs” and “non-hubs”). International interviews may be conducted by almost anyone involved in the Fuqua community: a member of the admissions committee, an alum, or a current student.
Book it fast. Interviews need to be scheduled very quickly once an invitation is issued, so it pays to check the schedule carefully before you even submit your application to ensure that you will be available if and when that invite comes. The Duke admissions committee is quite clear that they expect invited candidates to be available on those pre-announced dates and asks you not to submit an application in a particular round if you know you will be unavailable.
What can I expect? Like many top schools, interviews at Duke are “blind,” meaning that the interviewer has not read any part of the application except for the resume. Interviewers are trained to structure interviews as a conversation among colleagues, and not to try to intimidate or trip up candidates. The questions are designed to get to know the candidate and include the standard questions: Tell me about yourself (aka Walk me through your resume); Why an MBA?; Why Duke?; Discuss your team and leadership experiences. Each interviewer may have a different style or approach and could potentially ask other, more unique questions.
Ask questions. Additionally, since this is a conversation, it’s also encouraged that you get to know your interviewer a little bit and be prepared to ask him or her questions relevant to your interests. Be mindful that despite interviewers’ approachable and collegial demeanor, this is still an interview and candidates must remain professional at all times.